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How to make nostalgia marketing work for you

Many marketers seem to agree nostalgic feelings lower the barriers to spending money.

Why does nostalgia marketing work?

Perhaps the best comment we’ve seen on this is from Hubspot:

“Nostalgia marketing is the advertising equivalent of comfort food.”

We all know that comfort food makes us feel good. So does nostalgia. For marketers, that means you can make your brand experience feel good by association.

Build on your history

Successful nostalgia marketing is easier if your company and brand has been around for a while. You’re more likely to have resources (print ads, TV commercials) which you can use in your campaign. More importantly, you’re also more likely to appear authentic. And authenticity is important. It’s part of the connection and emotional engagement you’re creating.

Younger companies can play the nostalgia card too

The trick is to make a thematic link, and to tie your product into the nostalgic element of the campaign.

TV show The Dukes of Hazzard ended more than a decade before was founded, but they found a natural fit in their 2014 ad campaign. While Bo and Luke have ‘still got it’, their car hasn’t and they use Autotrader to find a replacement.

Choosing content for your nostalgia marketing

It’s worth having a look to see what material you already have.

For authenticity, photos, prints and video footage of past days are ideal.

Look through your old marketing collateral too. Video footage and advertising jingles are a great option. They’re a natural emotional hook to draw people in. Older material may need digitisation – we can sort that out for you.

Convinced? Let’s inspire you!

Volkswagen Beetle

The reintroduction of the Volkswagen Beetle in 1998 is a classic example of nostalgia marketing.

But notice – it’s not the exact same product. The new Beetle was modernised, but still recognisable.

It was a long time coming. Designers started work in 1991. Volkswagen unveiled it at the Detroit Auto Show in 1994. And it finally went into production in 1998. There was lots of careful planning, research and testing in this success!

You have to strike a balance between the nostalgic feeling of yesteryear and the modern features and capabilities customers have grown to expect.

Internet Explorer

Here’s a different take on nostalgia marketing. Instead of promoting continuity, Microsoft stresses how much Internet Explorer has changed. A great and brave way to relaunch a product which has proven unpopular.


What’s the ultimate theme for an alcohol brand celebrating a big birthday? In 2012, Bacardi marked 150 years with print and TV spots showing how their drink has always got the party going.

That’s not the only time Bacardi has used history for its marketing campaigns.

As a company still controlled by the descendants of founder Don Facundo Bacardi Masso, it has true authenticity. One aspect of this is the bat icon – a reminder of bats in the rafters of the original distillery in Cuba in 1862.

Toby Whitmoyer, Bacardi USA’s VP of marketing, said in 2013 that consumers are ‘really looking for brands that have authenticity and a heritage and a story. Bacardi has been incredibly successful as a business, but we really haven’t taken the time to tell consumers the real story behind the brand.’ Now they are doing it!


Another 100-year anniversary compilation.

This one works so well because so much has changed over the years. And of course ‘Mum’ evokes a strong emotional response.

Valuing your history can create a better future. Hopefully these examples have given you some inspiration for your own nostalgia marketing project.

And don’t forget, if you need any historic material digitised, get in touch.

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